Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Yonatan Aklilu – the Visionary Man of Ethiopian Youth Bright Future

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Yonatan Aklilu Photo: MARSIL TV WORLDWIDE Facebook Page

Yonatan Aklilu (lit. ’Jonathan His-crowns’; born 15 June 1979) is an Ethiopian motivator, teacher, and Gospel preacher. Yonatan is known for his project called Melkam Wetat. On 6 September 2020, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner Prime minister Abiy Ahmed surprised Yonatan, for his contribution to the youth of Ethiopia by gifting him 25,000 euros that he had been awarded through the Hessian Peace Prize.

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Yonatan was born Oromia region of Ethiopia and raised in Negele Arsi, Oromia, Ethiopia. He completed his primary and secondary school in Negele Arsi. Yonatan received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance from Arba Minch University. He had served as a teacher at the Adventist College, Kuyera Africa Beza and the Rift Valley University College, for he had a great ambition to become a teacher since his childhood. But Yonatan did not follow this profession, but became a Gospel teacher, and launched a religious TV channel which is called Marcil TV after founding a church named Addis Kidan Kahinat.

In 2017, Yonatan also launched a project called Melkam Wetat (Excellent Youth), which is more focused on the youth of Ethiopia regardless of their religious background, and has a mission to free young people from their difficult behaviors and morally change them to become good citizens. More than 100,000 students graduated from this project. Melkam Wetat’s head office is now in Hawassa, Ethiopia.

On 21 December 2020, on behalf of his project, Melkam Wetat, Yonatan donated 10 million Ethiopian birr for a school feeding project that was launched by the Addis Ababa city administrator. Currently Yonatan is working on youths especially those who affected by different types of addiction in line with preaching the Gospel. In Ethiopia the population of youth is assumed to be more than 65% of the population. Failing in handling youths will cause failure of the country.

If young peoples addicted with different substances, they cannot have future. Young people who persistently abuse substances often experience an array of problems, including academic difficulties, health-related problems (including mental health), poor peer relationships, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Additionally, there are consequences for family members, the community, and the entire society. Declining grades, absenteeism from school and other activities, and increased potential for dropping out of school are problems associated with adolescent substance abuse. Cognitive and behavioral problems experienced by alcohol- and drug-using youth may interfere with their academic performance and also present obstacles to learning for their classmates.

Physical health

Injuries due to accidents (such as car accidents), physical disabilities and diseases, and the effects of possible overdoses are among the health-related consequences of teenage substance abuse. Disproportionate numbers of youth involved with alcohol and other drugs face an increased risk of death through suicide, homicide, accident, and illness. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) study — in a representative sample of hospitals throughout the United States — reports trends in people seeking emergency department treatment related to illegal drug use or nonmedical use of legal drugs. Preliminary 1994 estimates indicate drug-related emergency department episodes for youth ages 12 to 17 increased by 17 percent from 1993 to 1994. Significantly, emergency department visits related to marijuana/hashish for youth ages 12 to 17 increased 50 percent between 1993 and 1994. Ninety-one youth between the ages of 12 and 17 died of drug abuse in 1993 (Office of Applied Studies, 1994). Transmission of HIV/AIDS primarily occurs through exposure to body fluids of an infected person during sexual contact or through sharing of unsterile drug-injection equipment. Another primary means of transmission is from mothers to infants during pregnancy or the birth process. Many substance-abusing youth engage in behavior that places them at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. This may include the actual use of psychoactive substances (particularly those that are injected) or behavior resulting from poor judgment and impulse control while experiencing the effects of mood-altering substances. Rates of AIDS diagnoses currently are relatively low among teenagers, compared with most other age groups. However, because the disease has a long latency period before symptoms appear, it is likely that many young adults with AIDS were actually infected with HIV as adolescents. Although alcohol-related traffic fatalities for youth have declined, young people are still overrepresented in this area. In 1995 alone, more than 2,000 youth (ages 15 to 20) were killed in alcohol-related car crashes (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1997).

These limited examples illustrate the catastrophic health-related consequences of substance abuse among adolescents. Besides personal and family distress, additional healthcare costs and loss of future productivity place burdens on the community.

Mental health

Mental health problems such as depression, developmental lags, apathy, withdrawal, and other psychosocial dysfunctions frequently are linked to substance abuse among adolescents. Substance-abusing youth are at higher risk than nonusers for mental health problems, including depression, conduct problems, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, and suicide. Marijuana use, which is prevalent among youth, has been shown to interfere with short-term memory, learning, and psychomotor skills. Motivation and psychosexual/emotional development also may be influenced (Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Peers and Families

Substance-abusing youth often are alienated from and stigmatized by their peers. Adolescents using alcohol and other drugs also often disengage from school and community activities, depriving their peers and communities of the positive contributions they might otherwise have made. In addition to personal adversities, the abuse of alcohol and other drugs by youth may result in family crises and jeopardize many aspects of family life, sometimes resulting in family dysfunction. Both siblings and parents are profoundly affected by alcohol- and drug-involved youth. Substance abuse can drain a family’s financial and emotional resources.

Social and economic consequences

The social and economic costs related to youth substance abuse are high. They result from the financial losses and distress suffered by alcohol- and drug-related crime victims, increased burdens for the support of adolescents and young adults who are not able to become self-supporting, and greater demands for medical and other treatment services for these youth.

Delinquency

There is an undeniable link between substance abuse and delinquency. Arrest, adjudication, and intervention by the juvenile justice system are eventual consequences for many youth engaged in alcohol and other drug use. It cannot be claimed that substance abuse causes delinquent behavior or delinquency causes alcohol and other drug use. However, the two behaviors are strongly correlated and often bring about school and family problems, involvement with negative peer groups, a lack of neighborhood social controls, and physical or sexual abuse. Possession and use of alcohol and other drugs are illegal for all youth. Beyond that, however, there is strong evidence of an association between alcohol and other drug use and delinquent behavior of juveniles. Substance abuse is associated with both violent and income-generating crimes by youth. This increases fear among community residents and the demand for juvenile and criminal justice services, thus increasing the burden on these resources. Gangs, drug trafficking, prostitution, and growing numbers of youth homicides are among the social and criminal justice problems often linked to adolescent substance abuse.

A study conducted in 1988 in Washington, D.C., found youth who sold and used drugs were more likely to commit crimes than those who only sold drugs or only used drugs. Heavy drug users were more likely to commit property crimes than nonusers, and youth who trafficked in drugs reported higher rates of crimes against persons. The 1996-97 National Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education study (1997) found a significant association between crimes committed by adolescents and their use of alcohol and other drugs.

In our concern in Ethiopia

High number of Ethiopian youths are currently exposed to addiction and all its crisis. Therefore, all stake holders should integrally work on increasing awareness of the effect of addiction amang youths. Since establishement of Melkam Wetat Yonatan Aklilu is working to his maximum effort to recover many youths from addictions.

Since the concern of youth must be the concern of the all, every NGOs, CSO and other stake holders working on youth have to support the Project of Melkam Wetat that launched by Gospel Preacher Yonatan Aklilu. God bless him!

By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use caalaadd2@gmail.com as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of www.ethiopianstoday.com.

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